The Washington Redskins have traded the convenience of their Ashburn, Va., facility for a slightly more bucolic training camp setting in Richmond. And while this means D.C.-area fans can’t just pop on the toll road for a chance to watch workouts, it does make catching the Redskins more of an event worth planning for.
Saturday is Fan Appreciation Day at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center, a new facility with fantastic sight lines, endless merchandise, food options, kids games and your best shot at seeing Robert Griffin III in a bucket hat. At Saturday’s event, fans can win prizes and get their photo taken with their favorite player.
“The fans are really excited that we’re here,” Griffin said. “We’re excited. Everybody has been really receptive, and we look forward to having everybody out here.”
More than 10,000 fans came out for the opening day of camp July 25, and since then, a steady stream of supporters from around the region have watched the morning walkthroughs and afternoon practices.
“This is awesome — everything is laid out nicely and it’s set up for fans to enjoy this experience of watching the Redskins practice,” said Robert Butler of Lynchburg, Va., who was seated on the tiered hill behind the end zone.
“You want everyone to be able to see what they want,” Butler said. “I want to be in the middle and watch both fields. Fans can be mobile instead of being isolated on one field.”
Three hours before the start of an afternoon practice, Lauren Shiflett and Kara Hensley of Harrisonburg, Va., had staked out a prime spot along the ropes next to the practice field.
“We’re longtime Redskins fans,” Shiflett said. “Our dad raised us that way, and this is one thing we can share with him. We had a good spot in Ashburn, and now we’re trying to find one here.”
Optimism abounds this time of year, with fans cheering for every faux handoff in walkthroughs and completed pass during practice, creating a festive environment that has everyone thinking big.
“I can’t wait for the season,” Butler said. “It’s going to be exciting to see what we do.”
5 Things to Know for Redskins Training Camp
1. Watching: The morning walkthrough has better seating options but less action. The afternoon practices feel more like football, but they’re way more crowded.
2. Parking: There’s plenty of parking around the area, especially if you don’t mind walking. “Find the first $5 lot you can and walk,” fan Lauren Shiflett says.
3. Eating: There are food trucks on-site, but there are other options around the facility, including En Su Boca, a taqueria housed in what used to be an X-rated bookstore.
4. Autographs: Figure out how to become a VIP. After practice, players mix, mingle and sign autographs in the corporate tents just off the fields.
5. More sports: The Diamond, home of the Richmond Flying Squirrels, is just up the street, giving you the chance to catch Double-A baseball to break up the football feast.